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Stem lengths used by the pros...(6 posts)

Stem lengths used by the pros...Cima
Sep 13, 2001 2:55 PM
I have been pondering this for many years, and knowing the cumulative knowledge of the riders who post on this message board, I'll ask this question. Are the pros tending to use longer length stems than we all utilize for proper fit?

When I watch race coverage, all of the bikes seem to have very long stems (>110mm), no matter what the frame size. Their body positions on the road bikes are always very stretched out, with their backs parallel to the ground, obviously promoting the most aerodynamic position possible. If this is indeed the case, then one must ponder the ever debatable equation of more stem length=less stability (esp. in cornering). At the level these guys race, does this means they are more concerned with aerodynamics, due to the ever increasing average speeds of road races and criteriums, than with the ability to have better control of the machine?

This question relates to standard road bikes only. The TT bikes are obvious.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks

re: Stem lengths used by the pros...mackgoo
Sep 13, 2001 4:42 PM
I too made that observation durring the Tour. I just went with a 130. previously I was using around a 110. I love it, I will never go back. I find myself wanting to stay in the drops. i have to make my self take the other bar positions on occassion. I climb sprint and cruise in the drops.
re:We're not them...dzrider
Sep 14, 2001 5:34 AM
At the Olympic trials I noticed that most of the elite riders had long limbs relative to their torsos. If this observation is correct - I've been full of $hit b4 - reaching further forward with long arms changes their center of gravity less than reaching foward with a long torso. It's the change in center of gravity that compromises handling.
smaller bikes?Dog
Sep 14, 2001 5:51 AM
I've read that pros typically choose smaller bike frame sizes, for lower weight and greater stiffness, and then use longer stems for proper fit.

Plus, as you note, the longer stem affords a lower riding position. I switched from a 110 to a 130 and feel much better.

I don't think longer stems have less stability, but rather more. The longer lever arm over the wheel means it's easier to control it, especially when on aerobars.

I feel more balanced with more weight toward the front wheel. "Cab forward," I suppose. A lot of this bike setup stuff is feel, and all the theory in the world can't change that. If I feel good on the bike, and thus corner faster and more confidently, it doesn't really matter what the experts say or what anyone else does. That's really the bottom line.

Thanks for your thoughts, everyone!!! (nm)Cima Coppi
Sep 14, 2001 12:47 PM
Long stem... shorter bike....tirider
Sep 14, 2001 8:31 PM
... is the way I had my last bike built up and I love the handling. I somewhat developed this mindset for the specs after contemplating the same question about how I saw the pros set up many bikes. The shorter frame and chainstays make it climb like a rabbit (do rabbits climb?) but the 130mm stem quiets down the steering. I came from a frame that was a bit too long, having compensated with a shortish stem. The difference is remarkable... feels like a sports car... another testimony for custom frames I suppose.